Thursday, May 31, 2007

Today is Brought to You by the Number π

Listening to On Air by June Tabor

Now is it TAY bor or TA bor or even T’ bor? Answers on a postcard to the usual address – probably with 8QT in the postcode.

Today feels very
Pre-Raphaelite. I can smell basil everywhere – he really should get a shower. No seriously, I love the look of these almost-photos – they seem to capture something you would think is impossible to put down on paper in any form. You may think them kitsch but the technical ability along with the instant-story feel you get from the pictures is always something far more than romanticism. In their time, some of the pictures were extremely controversial – and in a way far exceeding the rumblings about how a small piece of blue-tack can be considered art. Art had always been criticised more because of the subject matter and what it tries to say than for it’s technical execution. It is easy to divide a lot of acts and beliefs into good and evil but most things occupy a grey area either for everybody or where something good for one person is bad for another – and all shades in between. Sorry – this sounds like trying to defend the Pre-Raphaelites. They need no defending in any way as far as I’m concerned. My idea of a great gallery is one with Pre-Raphaelite paintings and Medieval icons. I was going to put “how sad is that?” but I’m not – I’m out and proud to be a fan of the PR Brotherhood.

I’m not sure why today feels very Pre-Raphaelite – must be the light or something. Someone is eating their dinner (thank you Stuart Maconie for making me see the light over dinner being something eaten at dinner time) and it smells like school – some sort of undefined stew – not unappetising but coloured with all sorts of associations about the various places of education I attended. I can just see the varnished herringbone tiling and the scuffed walls. Which reminds me that Rachel North has linked to
this page of Molesworth who I’m sure secretly liked Pre-Raphaelite paintings, if only for the nudes.

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Full of Haddock and Other Stuff

Well the decision on what to read was made easily with the purchase of
That’s Me In The Corner – the third book in Andrew Collins autobiographical collection. This was just as readable as the previous two though somehow the demands of having to earn a living seemed to take something away from the pure pleasure of the previous two books. The reason for wanting to write the first two was obvious – pure nostalgia and then I suppose the third book had to be written to complete things – to join up to now but somehow it seemed just a list of things that happened – very interesting things on important media but just events. Well it is finished and out of the way and we – or maybe just I - await Stephen Fry’s second volume of autobiography which is bound to be more than the sum of its words should it ever appear. I am sure I had heard he was writing it but maybe I was mistaken.

Not that you can tell but there was a small delay there while I purchased something online. I can actually reserve most books from our library online but these things are special. I have had a full set of Realworld CDs. Of course you must excuse the mercenary spirit within me that leads me to value style over content; all those 10 inch singles still in their shrink-wrap are no use to anyone now are they? Or this either :–

I learn from Balderdash and Piffle (presented by that nice Victoria Coren) that the symbol :- which I use all the time is known by printers as “The Dog’s B*****ks” which has slightly taken the edge of 20 years of using it in official documents. I did once have a manager who used several quite strong words in mixed company which shocked us until we realised from context that he didn’t actually know what they meant. Where is he now I wonder? And while on TV programmes – Andrew Marr’s second episode of the history of modern Britain did not disappoint. We learnt of unlikely affairs all while Andrew tried to save money for the BBC by going to Torquay in lieu of Jamaica to back up the story of Anthony Eden’s flight to Goldeneye after the debacle of Suez. I did try to spot my dad in the shots of British and French troops landing in Egypt but he managed to keep his head down. I will have to ask him about it someday. I did not realise that the whole affair was cooked up between Britain, France and Israel who attacked Egypt to provide an excuse for us to go in as peacekeepers. Now who would believe that we could get taken into a dangerous middle-eastern war on the back of a lie of such proportions today? Well my dad did his bit – in the Royal Engineers they taught him how to blow up bridges and then he came home and the Civil Engineers taught him how to build them up again. And he got a medal any everything. My devout cowardice obviously does not come from him.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Plath Rotatus Pariter

Listening to Pooka by Pooka

I don’t like synchronicity – it seems artificial and meaningless in a world that is just so big. In an infinite universe everything happens eventually and what we have to bear in mind is the match between the number of people in the world and the number of events that people can ascribe to synchronicity. Forgive me rationalising but when you compare the number of people who DON’T find their long-lost rings in the stomachs of the very fish that they have just caught 30 years down the line with the number who do then it all falls into place. It is exactly because the event is rare that it makes the news. So the gee-whizz reaction to just such a coincidence is self-deflating. If everyone found rings in fish then they’d just shrug and get on with things. However, this paragraph was sparked into being by the similarity between two things I have been reading. One is an entry in
The Old New Thing regarding being competent enough in a foreign language to be able to understand without having to translate it into your own language. Douglas Hofstadter talks about wondering what it would be to think like the speaker of another language as part of trying to get inside other consciousnesses. I have to say that without really having it formally defined in my head, I have thought about this myself. You come across words from a foreign language which match with words in English and they make me wonder about whether jokes and puns work in specific languages. In GEB, Hofstadter printed version of Jabberwocky in French and German to show that it is possible to muck around with language however you speak.

I’m apparently on the down escalator. See Theologian
damns most Britons to hell. You may argue with my intellectual analysis of this but I struggle to see how anyone who believes in such nursery views of theology can actually manage to get to be a Doctor (of whatever) . I’m not sure whether I mention it because giving credence to such a view is – in a comparison that the good doctor may have heard of in his professional career – like discussing how many angels can dance on the point of a needle. Now I know that this question is in itself a bit like Knut attempting to turn back the waves – usually completely misunderstood but the proverbial nature of the Angels dancing question conveys the pointlessness of what so many people will talk about for hours. I suppose I am dangerously close to trying to find a divide between what is legitimate religious discussion and irrelevance. I recall the statement by some Christians during a large scientific trial in to the power of prayer which included people of all religions that they thought that the people that THEY prayed for would be helped but that they could not see how any other denominations could possibly get their messages across – in effect – everyone else is a heretic. All or nothing people. This has reminded me that an ex-colleague of mine has just completed a second MA and is considering a Ph.D. Importantly this will be in a discipline which might actually be of some use rather than to back up a position of authority to be used for damning 90% of the population to a place which absolutely, positively does NOT EXIST. Stuff that in your incense burner!

I finished Rendezvous With Rama last night – went upstairs to read so as to avoid being a Jinx to our brave lads but failed miserably. I am pleased with the redrawing of the images in my head – though I still feel that my youthful images were better than the illustrations. I loved the tension that wasn’t particularly tense, the final images of the Endeavour craft being spun by the backwash from Rama’s space drive, the general reality of space travel which is what you expect from Arthur C Clarke. I do hope the film does it’s best to stick to reality. I’m not sure what to read now – I do have nineteen-eighty-four by the bed but it might be a bit heavy for current times.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Never in This Field of Cows …

Listening to V-At by Tarwater

Damn-near-perfect TV programme last night to go with this damn-near-perfect music from the Wiretapper CD. Music is V-At by Tarwater which has a certain indefinable magic that summons up all sorts of memories. Play loud in the car and have a great driving moment of quality.

The great TV was Andrew Marr’s History of Modern Britain which concentrated mostly on the politics of this fair land since the end of WWII. I was worried beforehand that it might be dusty and boring and indeed the review had said something along the lines of it just being Mr Marr talking to camera interspersed with archive. Well it was exactly that but with an authoritative and interesting delivery it raises AM up there with Kenneth Clark and Jacob Bronowski as a documenter of how things are. Now I am not clever enough to know whether the whole approach was different to anything I have seen before or whether I just do not generally know about the period covered in last night’s programme but it did seem to be packed with information that seemed fresh and unknown – of course the general big stuff was somewhere in my head but the juicy way it was presented made it seem new. My dad said he wasn’t going to bother watching because he had lived through it all – I hope he changed his mind. I’m not sure that the impressions of Churchill (the statesman – not the dog) were really necessary.

I’m fair whistling through Rendezvous With Rama – more than half-way through and with so much I remember still to come. What is interesting is that the gap between last reading it and now had wiped my brain clear of the memories of what I though the place looked like and so I am able to create a new picture. I also notice that I am much better at creating images from the descriptions. Actually I lied about all the old images having been wiped – what I mean is that they are so faded that my more-mature mind is able to overwrite them. The thing that strikes me about the various illustrations (the one on Wikipedia for example) is that they have far too much detail. The overwhelming impression in my head is of wide vistas of featureless grey material broken only by small islands of complexity rather than the fields and roads of the drawings. No one seems to want to illustrate the stairways down which the crew of Endeavour had to descend to reach the interior of Rama (and of course climb up again).

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Orwell im Suus Sepulchrum Rotatus est

Listening to a Wiretapper CD

If any of you have managed to reach here despite having an education in excess of that possessed by the robots and spammers who normally trawl these depths, then do not bother to tell me that the latin up there is not correct. It is for pretentious ambience rather than anything else.

I am quite enjoying Rendezvous with Rama in a sort of non-threatening everyday sort of a way though I am beginning to get slightly concerned that technology that is readily available to us today is not even thought of for the 22nd century. For instance, the explorers of Rama send in time-delayed flares to allow them to photograph the inside of the cylinder but surely they would have remote-control vehicles that would be able to map objects in 3d and allow the creation of computer models. I know that the ship that Rendezvous with Rama (see what I did there?) has been diverted, at short-notice, from another mission, but that mission was checking and emplacing beacons on Asteroids which surely must involve quite a bit of 3d mapping anyway. Not sure why I bother with this pedantry – it’s a good book and without any real drama, manages to drag you in – a tale told by ambience rather than by plot or character. I look forward to the film though if it turns it into Star Wars I think I might be a little disappointed.

We watched a gem of a programme on BBC 4 yesterday – a discussion in the form of a contest about the work of Walter Sickert
and John Singer Sargent. I have to admit that I had not heard of Sargent though I think I have probably seen some of his work. It seemed at first that these two artists had been chosen for comparison simply because they were both at their prime in Edwardian times but it soon became obvious that they were absolutely complementary to each other – Sargent the dashing socialite and recorder of the celebs of the time with Sickert as the recorder of low-life darkness and despair. You can easily see how various levels of connection to Jack the Ripper have been made for Sickert – he documented a world that in a film director’s slap dashed stereotyping is exactly what we imagine was the background to the 1880s’ murders. The contrast between the wonderful, fairy-tale light of Sargent’s Carnation, Lily, Lily, Rose and the dark, smoke-smudged painting of Sickert’s Ennui is intense and yet both describe the same world. The Sickert paintings remind me of the early part of Prufrock.

Monday, May 21, 2007

Forelock Tugging!

Listening to Miranda by Tappi Tikarrass

We took advantage of the
National Garden Scheme yesterday and visited Crosby Hall. I have driven along the garden walls many times but have never been inside though it is often open for various events and indeed is the location for Crosby Hall Educational Trust which lets local kids see various rural things. It might have been more atmospheric if there had not been several hundred other people there but you can’t really expect to get personal invitations to these sort of places. The children were very much interested in the Peacocks but they seemed very wary and can you blame them. The gardens are divided up with many out-buildings and high-brick walls which gives it a rather intimate feel. The close-cropped lawns around the main house, give way to pasture from which they are separated by a ha-ha. All very civilized. Nationalise it now! That of course is a joke when you remember the civic-minded attitude of the owners. I think Orwell would have liked it.

Talking of Eric Arthur reminds me of the Senior Policeman who
worries about the number of cameras about. The reporter on the news yesterday said he had counted 20 cameras within a few yards of Orwell’s blue-plaque in London which must have resulted in surely spectacular post-mortem rotation in the old plain speaker. I did not realise that CCTV images are covered under the data-protection act and you can request images of yourself for a SMALL FEE. It seems that a lot of the agencies holding these images either do not know the rules or do not want you to know the rules. I wonder if Mark Thomas has been informed? He could possibly organise a mass of individual requests of footage. If enough people did it then it would not be worthwhile carrying on. There is no difference between the replacement of Beat Policemen with Cameras and the substitution of ATMs for bank tellers – It’s all about money rather than “to improve the service to you - the customer”. Someone has just made a movie entirely from bits of CCTV footage of herself.

Anyway, big news is that I have finished Cloud Atlas having been drawn into it by a structure far more complicated than a sneering reviewer on Amazon would admit. The prose in each section never seemed contrived to me and yet every so often a corresponding event in one section would be recalled by one in another though one might evoke horror and another just amusement. It is a much more sophisticated example of an idea I had myself though of course the idea has surfaced in someone’s head many times over the course of history. In fact I think there is a paragraph stating exactly that in one of the sections. All in all a very satisfying book despite the shaky false start on my part. I actually felt a bit lost last night and floundered around trying to find something which I considered able to compete with CA. I have resorted to the palate-cleanser of
Rendezvous with Rama which I haven’t read for at least 15 years.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Diary of a Somebody

It was nice to see (a clean-shaven) Hugh “Pooter” Bonneville reading the bedtime story on CBeebies yesterday. The BBC must have something their actor’s contract which says that the Children’s TV producers can bags any actor they like as they come and go about the BBC studios, dress them up in causal clothes and sit them down to read the stories. It might also be a sly way of putting the programmes that the actors are in later in the minds of any adult minders who might happen to watch as well. Mr Bonneville was indeed on BBC 4 later in the last episode of Diary of a Nobody which had a satisfying and poignant ending – much more poignant than I remember from reading the book. The main problem with watching it is that Mr Pooter looks uncannily like my dad though that might just be the beard.

I have to say that I was worried that I wouldn’t get into the central story of Cloud Atlas after reading that some people skimmed it because of the strong dialect form but it’s actually quite intriguing – I was fearing it would be like A Clockwork Orange but it’s quite easy to follow most of it. It also has a strong ability to lead you forward to wanting the next bit. As this story is the central one in has no split – at least one story would have to be left unsplit in order for the book to finish – but I wonder if there is a point somewhere in the middle where the split would go. I already know the link between this and the previous story so I have an idea where the split could be.

There were fewer correspondences between Cloud Atlas and yesterday’s tranche of I am a Strange Loop. I think I dreamed something connected with it the other day though – it was very vivid at the time though of course without writing the details down at the time it is now just a fuzzy memory. There was a book of poetry in it somewhere – an icon of something – I could see the cover in great details though I didn’t get to see any of the actual words. This was probably triggered by the poetry I was reading at the Viking demonstration at the weekend. I did also think of something which I thought really quite staggeringly interesting while I was getting the boy to sleep yesterday – something regarding structure of systems – but the detail of that has vanished as well.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Stepping Over Non-existent Barbed Wire

I suppose I am currently much more aware of links and loops because of current reading matter and also I suppose that Cloud Atlas and I am a Strange Loop share some themes but some of the correspondences are quite strong. The first chapter of I am a Strange Loop, which I read yesterday, talks about units of measuring what Hofstadter calls ‘soul’ though he does allow what he calls the old standby of ‘being conscious’. He gives the name Hunekers to these units after an American music critic who said of one particular Chopin etude, that it should not be attempted by “small-souled men”. Hofstadter also points out that the measurement of soul does not have an upper ceiling rather like IQ and maybe we should say that people tend to a level of 100 Hunekers.

In Cloud Atlas, one section deals with the experiences of a genetically engineered ‘fabricant’ one of many produced to do the dirty work in human society; a central theme of this being the ascendancy of these fabricants from ‘genomed’ stupidity and obedience to genius level – a sort of increase in soul – of Hunekers I suppose. Indeed, the humans or ‘purebloods’ in the story can choose to give fabricants a soul ring which allows them access to areas normally forbidden to them.

In general Cloud Atlas fits together very neatly; each section having several links with the previous one, though some are concrete, rational things such as the existence of material evidence of something from the past while others are mystical Jungian coincidences which as you know always put me on my guard. However, what has struck me is that the links between the sections are entirely arbitrary – from the same starting section you might well choose a completely different set of tales still linked but now in a different way. I suppose that had the links between the sections been stronger I might have been a little dismissive of them but because they just suggest a random path through life, they are much more believable. It all reminds me of
Connections where James Burke made seemingly random links through the history of science and technology which always made me slightly uncomfortable with the arbitrariness of his selections. Looking at it now, that is the fuzzy way the world actually is and proof of the interconnectedness of everything. Apologies for the long constructions but they all spell-check happily.

Monday, May 14, 2007


There is a disused church near us –
Christ Church Old Church which this weekend was host to a history display by a team of Vikings. I am sorry to say that we took the car instead of walking due to the rain which does not usually bother us. Well it was a bit far to walk I suppose. We parked in a street which rather aptly seemed to fit the music playing on the radio which was Bedsitter by Softcell. The Vikings themselves seemed to have pretty dropped in from the past, without any reference to modern times which was quite weird. A display of sword and stick fighting was in progress watched by a number of children in full fancy dress, though the cries and grunts of the warriors was interspersed with the youngest child shouting “externimate” at the top of his voice. My daughter thought for a moment that she was allowed to participate though the swords in use were a good deal longer than she is tall. Not that she was disappointed because she was allowed to wear a proper helmet though the weight of it caused her to go around with her head on one side. I was allowed to wear it as well – I am wondering if real Vikings had the comfortable padding that this one had in their helmets – no horns though. I am afraid I have not yet uploaded the pictures but most of the participants seemed made to be Vikings. Not one of them wanted to reseat my motherboard though. There was food, there was weaponry, there was music all under cosy tents with a calming smell of wood smoke all around. Much better than the overpriced and disappointing Jorvik Centre in York where the best part of it was the String Quartet who played for the people in the queue – I think we heard about an album’s worth while waiting to get in.

Inside the church there were various tables of local history – I was impressed with the poetry in some of the local school magazines from the sixties which was deep and non-naff. The quality of the magazines was also of note – I am beginning to sound like Pevsner or that bit that Alan Bennett read in the middle of George Martin’s production of Under Milk Wood. I have been meaning to scan in some of the pages from my old school magazine from the late 70s, early 80s. (Nearly had a grocers’ apostrophe there.) It is a shame that such an impressive building is disused though it seems to have escaped being vandalised apart from a few bits of graffiti on the outside walls.
The fact that “grocers’ Apostrophe” actually contains an apostrophe has reminded me that I bought “
I Am a Strange Loop” this weekend which I thought was a much better buy than a new copy of GEB. I am alternating reading this with Cloud Atlas though Cloud Atlas is winning at the moment.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

No – Not The Full Thousand Days!

A feel a dangerous need to talk about the weather which I must resist so I will talk about dolls’ houses instead. My daughters Christmas present was a dolls’ house from a kit which I painted and just about got the outside finished in time for the day itself. Since then she has been ploughing her pocket money into buying wallpaper and furniture. The decoration is of course left to me and papering the back wall of the rooms is a fiddly process. Now my wife has borrowed a book about constructing dolls’ houses from scratch which borders on the obsessive in its attention to making things look real. The roofs are tiled with individual pieces of thin cardboard and hardwood floors are made up from bits of material cut to the size of individual planks. I am afraid that the tiles on my daughter’s house are a roll of printed paper stuck on with spray glue. I gave up skimming through the book when I got to the chapter on how to lay the lighting tracks under the floors or inside the chimney (so that the fire glows).

So much to do – so much rain.

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Spaghetti Aural

I am deep into Cloud Atlas. There is no link from here so you can avoid the spoilers that might crop up in any reviews though I am not sure that knowing the structure would harm your enjoyment of this book. I cannot describe my feelings about it without revealing this structure, other than to say that they are positive. Thanks to the netty-type person who persuaded me to have another go at it after I noted that is was in the top ten of most-bought-least-read books. As well it does seem to have some of the elements of the push-pop story in Godel, Escher, Bach though I hope that the final story of Cloud Atlas is not omitted to make the point that Douglas Hofstadter did. It also reminds me a tiny bit of Thinks but I am not sure why.

Now a complaint. You know those stock photos that you see in presentations or used to illustrate brochures? They show a tidy office, all shiny, clean desks and the appearance of calm busyness. The people are all occupied, their attention taken by atmospherically lit computer screens, the very epitome of what non-office monkeys used to think offices were like before offices began to filter into the reality television shows and sitcoms. Well that is the image! The sound however is the aural equivalent of Yellow Submarine. Mobile phones! That’s what this rant is about – that and the alert sounds on IM. The professional ambience is routinely shattered by nursery-style jingles and tinny approximations to chart music which has no hook or worse, some supposedly humorous sound, such as the cartoon noises of birds or a comedy splash. I think I may even have once heard a
Wilhelm Scream. I would like all phones to go back to a simple ringing noise but the argument against that is How would we know whose phone was demanding to be answered? Maybe we should have the voice of HAL calling out the name of the phones owner but that might be creepy I suppose. Some phones use the generic US phone ring which makes me think someone has started watching an episode of The Rockford Files.

I did have something I wanted to say about test plans but it has been lost.

Thursday, May 03, 2007

Set The Controls For Smug Git Mode

Or while you may feel a small prick you will not look like one.

Give Blood Guv! I did yesterday! It’s one of the most important things you can do. They will ask you a lot of questions some of which you might find a bit personal though in this enlightened age none of them should be particularly embarrassing. I was slightly relieved to find that the person wearing a T-Shirt with the words – “I like You – I’ll Kill You Last” was a donor and not a member of staff but in general the whole experience is a calming one. You won’t be able to read anything as one arm is out of action but you will be able to examine the ceiling of whichever Church Hall, Civic Centre or Dank Dungeon in which you chose to ‘Done’. As usual I had to sit in the little cubical reserved for weeds who faint or bleed too much – I suggested it was my high garlic diet which let the watery red stuff to flow far too freely but I was told it was the heat – not that anyone else had to leave the little island of satisfaction where they lay out the tea and biscuits – just me – again.

I have one secret donation on my list from years ago – I gave blood while I was still at college in the company of a large Bristolian player of American Football. He did faint though not for long and we all used it as an excuse to go and top up with iron in the form of Guinness in the student union bar though my Gridiron pal chose to simply munch on a few six-inch nails and then walk up the walls of the corridor with his hands and feet stretched across it until his nose hit the ceiling. Very impressive – Steve Poole was his name – if you know him then tell him to email.

This reminds me of the fathery superiority that I get from walking down one of the alleys round our way. It starts off wide but narrows like a funnel or a
duck decoy and at the bottom end I can just touch both sides with my finger tips. My daughter thinks this is wonderful and she uses the gap that she has left when she tries, as a gauge of her own growing up. We are half-way through Swallowdale as well – parts of which I seem to have forgotten including some wonderful set-pieces involving breathless descriptions of the rural, Lakeland activities by Nancy Blackett. And I am within one good session of finishing 'The Steep Approach To Garbadale' with no idea of what the ending will be, other than a mad, self-referential idea like something from Sophie’s World which incidentally is where Spiritualized got the name for their album Ladies and Gentlemen We Are Floating In Space.

Oh and as well as giving blood, your civic duty today should also include voting, if you can find anyone inspiring enough. I think I have a default of Green which means that if all the three big parties misbehave enough then I vote Green and I have to say all the three big parties are not doing anything to make me think they will do a better job in the future. Is that weedy and just a protest vote? Still – the sun is shining so think of all those lucky election officials sitting around bored because no one can be bothered to come along and vote. Now, having decided what your ideal evening should be for today (Vote on the commute– rap hard on the door of the local hospital demanding to be bled and then home for Macaroni Cheese and a little light international peace-keeping) I shall go back to my SQL and .net.

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Jegogan – Jegogan

My daughter came home yesterday enthusiastic about
Sefton Music Services having a Gamelan orchestra just up the road. This was news to me but she we even more tickled when we told her that there was a Gamelan instrument on its side under her bed and it had been there for years. I have to admit that it arrived from Bali with a crucial part broken and that has not been fixed. I may have already mentioned about the piece of leather that it requires to get working again and how I got some funny looks when asking around for something suitable to facilitate the required repair. I even asked at Madam Foner’s surgical supplies which had a branch outside the main hospital in Liverpool. So if anyone knows where I can get a long thread of cow skin about 8 mm wide and at least a metre long then please get in touch.

I have two ways of getting home, each of which I choose depending on how bad the traffic is at a particular point. One of these routes brings me down towards the docks of North Liverpool where the peaks of various ships show above the quayside buildings. It always looks quite special and makes me feel lucky to live in a place with such lively industry though I suppose that might make a few people upset because automations has meant that the number of people who actually work in the docks is a small fraction of the thousands who used to work there. The area has always inspired me. When I used to work at a big factory with lots of noisy high-tech machinery, the whole atmosphere of the docks seemed to link in with that continuous chug and clank though even then the main part of the operation was run by a few men driving those container cranes. There is a compound just inside the perimeter fence of the docks where large items that have come off ships and are waiting to be picked up are stored. Very often these are large items of farm machinery or speed boats but occasionally there are Humvees or other giant US automobiles. There is also a
bird reserve which is actually inside the perimeter fence and I’ve never been – now you have to book because of the security regulations that apply. I may persuade my dad to book us in sometime. The reserve is noted because it often has rare species that hitch across the Atlantic on the ships that dock here.

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

The Pipes behind The Sink

This is so obviously something to fill up the time. What a waste to just lie here in a fog of depression simply describing everything you can see like some literary, panoramic photograph. Try it sometime. Start at the door - a heavy door that suffered iin the sixties by having its panels pasted over with hardboard to give it a modern look - strip that off and underneath you will find a traditional construction - a bit of varnish and we'll be tipping back over Fukuyama's future into the smog and grime of Victorian England. You know you want to. A heavy frame surrounds the door and that is all you can say about it excpet that maybe the door is a centimetre thicker than it was when it was first painted - the rounded edges show where many layers have paint have been out like drawing a line a millimetre out from an object placed on paper and then another a millimetre further out; eventually this iteration will lead you to a pure sphere. Maybe that is the future of everything, all surfaces smoothed out created speres that eventually merge to fill the universe with matter. There must be some fractal maths in here. There is definitely some tiling theory in the wallpaper, a modern design of pale, pastel patterns repeating over and over, tiled to the edges of the room. And every comma in its correct place, like camouflage for my loudest shirts, the ones I stopped wearing all those years ago. No one would have believed that I could get away with those. They were fractionally better than the wallpaper but who cares nowadays? The light switch joins me up to the world - behind that little, plastic rocker is a network that connects me to giant lakes, high in remote mountains, to dancing atoms in the heart of nuclear plants and to the steaming, oily machinery of the smoke-belching power stations we all see around us - cool names like Trawsfynydd and Drax. The day has faded enough to let me turn on the light and so my finger makes a tiny change to the momentum of some massive turbine, many miles from here. The light somewhere else drops in intensity by some tiny amount, like the amount the earth falls away from you when you jump. Everything is connected. All this makes me think of evrything and nothing, switching between these two impossible states of mind, a flip-flop at a frequency high enough to make sound, a sort of brain hum like in those old computer rooms. A convetional description may be coming next because there is a picture on the wall, slightly leaning so I straighten it but should I describe it to you. To someone it might be brilliant star in the history of art and to others a boring and ancient cliche, lost and irrelevant in the modern world. A woman from probably 120 years ago walks across a brightly-lit field in what must be late summer with a golden grain crop of some sort stretching away into the far distance where a line of trees and a few sketchy buildings show what is likely to be a river. The sky is blue and white of the highest order and inside the woman's mind is an acceptance of the happiness of this moment - no sign of depleting levels of neuro-transmitters in the brain. I would love to be sucked into this paiting, dragged through the frame which must be able to accomodate even my spreading body and walk across that parched field to the cool, shaded river where surely there must be punts and fishermen.

Couldn’t it Have Been a Whole Mouse Running at Half the Speed?

Nearly finished with
The Steep Approach To Garbadale – it is indeed steep though quite compelling – I’m not sure of the point of the peripheral first-person narrator who comes into it occasionally and seemingly without meaning – I do hope it’s not just an affectation to sound experimental. In Thinks by David Lodge, the main female character writes a book that is seen as experimental simply because it sticks to a single person, single narrator without any of the wild variations that are present in the book in which she is described; there are transcriptions of tapes – emotionless descriptions of events and standard book like narration. I think this is to reflect the possibility of consciousness developing in computers. This seems to be happening already as described here.

I really will try Cloud Atlas again.